Like riding a bike

I haven’t ridden a bike in about a decade. At least a decade. Probably more than a decade. I used to ride around the block and such at my grandfather’s house in Ellsworth, riding past the older-boy-I-liked’s house, hoping he’d come out and play Wiffle ball (wiffle ball? Wiffle Ball?) with me.

He used to throw snowballs at me. He might be in jail now. Not entirely sure.

The point I’m trying to make is that I haven’t ridden a bike in, like…a really long time. Someone thought it a good idea to say that you never forget. I’m not sure where this came from, but I don’t believe it. If I were to get on a bike right now, I’d probably immediately fall over and injure myself. I mean, let’s be honest. I’ve twice in two weeks fallen down my deck stairs. Let’s not push our luck.

But you know what is “like riding a bike?”

I started running at IUP, and for a while, I was good at it, kind of. I didn’t race or anything, but I ran most days, and I had a good pace and could do five miles on the Hoodlebug Trail easy – and enjoy it.

Then I decided to take 21 credits my senior and be EIC at the same time. Then I didn’t run so much.

Then I moved to Pittsburgh and I started to run again, but it’s funny how a depressive funk can kill any and all enthusiasm for…everything. Like getting out of bed and putting on shoes.

Then last spring I started again for real. I was getting back into it. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Alex’s five-mile, some 5Ks and mud runs and my first half.

Then, the Great Tendon Destruction of 2013. I might have actually tried to amputate my right foot at one point. It hurt to exist. Happened during my first race of the summer. Full of common sense and logic, I then proceeded to run three 5Ks in the two weeks following the injury.

I’m an intelligent person, I swear.

Five months later, I was able to walk, run, move, exist pain-free. And so I started running again. It’s ridiculously hard to get back into after having not done it religiously for more than a year. I hated it. It was a chore. I didn’t want to do it, but I stupidly signed up for the Pittsburgh Half in May, so I’ve got  no choice but to get my shit together.

But as it turns out, god did I miss it.

Steady. Rhythmic. Soothing. Nothing else.
Step, step, step, step.
It’s a lullaby for a mind that never shuts off.

I run with music, but I don’t think that makes me any less of a runner. It just helps me focus on the footsteps. Background motivation. Fort Minor and Tom Petty on repeat.

Last night was the best run I’ve had since starting back up. It was only just over two miles, but I felt good the entire time. Not good as in “I didn’t feel terrible,” but as in I actually felt good while I was running. Which is kind of remarkable considering it was 23 degrees.

Step, step, step, step.

I haven’t started practicing hills yet. I need to get my pace down and my distance up first. Even slight inclines give me trouble – it hurts my knee (an old war karate injury).

Sometimes hills need a mantra.

Step, step, step.

Shut up. It works.
And it’s something I need to remind myself sometimes.

I run a lot, but this running is for me and me alone.

Run to Carnegie. Run to the office. Run up against deadline. Run from borough to school board. Run to the store, run to my mom’s. Run out to buy dog food. Run out of hours in a day.

Then run for me. Just for me.

When I started again, I wasn’t entirely certain it was going to work out. I’d fallen out of my love for blindly putting one foot in front of the other. It was something I didn’t want to do. Something I had to force myself to do.

Last night, I didn’t want to, but somewhat on autopilot, I put on my 27 layers and ran. And enjoyed it. Without forcing myself to enjoy it. (Reminder entirely for myself: Buy reflective tape, self, before you get hit by a car.)

Step, step, step, step.

Thirteen miles is a lot of miles. I mean, that’s a lot of miles to drive, let alone run.

My pace is terrible. Does anyone want to be my pacing partner? It’ll be easy – I’m slow right now.

Thirteen miles, Jesus Christ.

I think the biggest challenge will be to be alone with myself for that long. I’m looking forward to it.

Step, step, step, step.

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